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Ricky’s picks for Day 6 of the Australian Open, including Djokovic vs. Dimitrov

A bottom half of the Australian Open draw that is mostly in shambles will return to the court for third-round action on Saturday. Novak Djokovic continues his campaign against Grigor Dimitrov and Tommy Paul battles Jenson Brooksby.

(27) Grigor Dimitrov vs. (4) Novak Djokovic

Djokovic has been far from his dominant self through two rounds of the Australian Open and there are concerns about a hamstring injury, but at the same time he hasn’t come close to bowing out of the tournament. The nine-time champion opened with a four-set victory over Roberto Carballes Baena and also advanced past Enzo Couacaud in four sets on Thursday night.

Up next for Djokovic on Saturday is Dimitrov, a good friend and familiar foe who is 1-9 lifetime in the head-to-head series. Since upsetting Djokovic at the 2013 Madrid Masters, the 31-year-old Bulgarian has lost seven in a row. In addition to the 35-year-old Serb’s relative struggles this week, the good news for Dimitrov is that he has absolutely rolled so far in Melbourne with straight-set beatdowns Aslan Karatsev and Laslo Djere. There are reasons to think that Dimitrov can be somewhat competitive, but Djokovic has never had any trouble playing through minor physical niggles and he should be able to advance without too much trouble.

Pick: Djokovic in 4

Tommy Paul vs. Jenson Brooksby

Eight men remain in the bottom quarter of the draw. Five are Americans. There are two all-American third-round showdowns in that section, including Paul vs. Brooksby on Saturday. Both guys battled their way into this matchup the hard way. Paul went five sets with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, while Brooksby had to go up against No. 2 seed Casper Ruud and pulled off a four-set upset after three hours and 55 minutes.

Following that impressive performance, Brooksby will be the trendy pick to reach round four. However, his contest against Ruud was physically taxing–despite not going five sets–and the 22-year-old relies on his speed and defense to win matches. Paul is one of the best athletes on tour and will have no problem putting in as much works as it takes to solve the riddle that is Brooksby. In fact, the 25-year-old did so with ease when these two countryman previously faced each other–blasting Brooksby 6-3, 6-2 at last summer’s Cincinnati Masters. The rematch will be far more competitive, but Paul has a good chance to get the job done once more.

Pick: Paul in 5

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.